ANN BLYTH: ACTRESS. SINGER. STAR. will be published this Thursday, June 18th.
It's a biography by Jacqueline T. Lynch, who's been blogging since 2007 at the outstanding Another Old Movie Blog. Regular readers here know how much I admire Jacqueline's writing, as I regularly link to her work in my weekly link roundups.
ANN BLYTH: ACTRESS. SINGER. STAR. is the culmination of Jacqueline's "Year of Ann Blyth" in 2014, in which she dedicated her blog to exploring Blyth's career in great detail. Since I also love Ann Blyth, I couldn't be more enthused about Jacqueline's new book, and it was an interesting and enjoyable as expected.
As with the blog series, the book focuses on Ann Blyth's public career. This rather private actress's personal life is outlined in broad strokes -- a very serious back injury as a teen, the early deaths of her mother and older sister, her religious faith, her happy family life married to Dr. James McNulty -- but the emphasis is a detailed exploration of Ann's work in film, radio, theater, and television.
The lack of availability of many of Blyth's films on DVD, plus the actress's own view of her career as just one aspect of a full life, may also have played a role in Blyth being somewhat "under the radar" today, though she surely has long had her admirers among classic film fans. Jacqueline's book will hopefully cause many more people to take a look at this multitalented woman whose career encompassed just about every possible aspect of 20th Century entertainment.
Ann's career and performances are all examined in rich detail, and, just as she does with films at her blog, Jacqueline also puts Ann's career experiences in the context of entertainment and world history. She also uses periodicals of the times to give an "as it happened" perspective on how Ann's career was chronicled as it unfolded.
I loved reading Jacqueline's analyses of Ann's performances, revisiting those I've seen in my mind's eye while hoping to see those which are new to me. I'm particularly happy that Jacqueline shares my love for ONCE MORE, MY DARLING (1949), calling it "one of the funniest comedies of the era." I couldn't agree more, and as with so many of Ann's films, it's a shame this movie is not on DVD. I suspect it's been a good two decades since it was last shown on TV. It's a frustrating example of the difficulty audiences have seeing so much of Ann's excellent work.
For more information on the background of this book, John Greco has posted an extensive interview with the author at Twenty Four Frames.
ANN BLYTH: ACTRESS. SINGER. STAR. is 656 pages, including a filmography, selected listings of theatrical, radio, and television appearances, a select discography, and end notes. The book is nicely illustrated with a variety of film stills, candid shots, publicity materials, theatre ads, movie magazine covers, and more.
Amazon, CreateSpace, and Etsy as well as directly from the author.
Full disclosure: The author kindly quoted me at some length in the book, describing Ann Blyth's 2013 appearance at the TCM Classic Film Festival, along with using a photograph I took on that occasion. It was a pleasure to be able to offer this small contribution to Jacqueline's book.
Sincere thanks to Jacqueline T. Lynch for providing a .pdf copy of this book for review.
Note: This book is the first title reviewed from my 2015 Summer Classic Film Book Reading List.